Steven Barry Becomes Important Figure in Paramilitary Underground
By Gregory A. Walker
After the "60 Minutes" piece aired in early 1995, Pentagon and Special Forces officials denied the existence of the SFU and said The Resister was not an "extremist publication."
The denials came nine years after a special directive from then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger banning active participation in extremist groups (the directive did not bar simple membership in such organizations). Over the years, the armed services had been embarrassed by a number of extremist incidents linked to men in uniform.
Still, later in 1995, Major General William Garrison, the commander of the Special Warfare Center where Barry had once taught, launched an unofficial investigation to identify The Resister's editor and his associates. At about the same time, a fraternal group of Special Forces veterans told Garrison it believed that editor was Steven Barry.
The FBI was interested, too.
When McVeigh was arrested earlier in 1995, a few days after the Oklahoma City bombing, police had found a photocopy of The Resister in his car. The copy, it turned out, was one of about 900 sent out free by Soldier of Fortune as part of a promotional package.
Like the rest of the free Resisters, McVeigh's copy carried a fax signature — a number that the FBI easily traced to a Colorado convenience store used by Pate to fax documents to Soldier of Fortune. FBI officials followed the trail to the store, then to Pate and finally to Barry.
In February 1996, as Garrison's unofficial probe began to make headway, a Pate article appeared in Soldier of Fortune under the headline "Witch Hunt for The Resister."
The story lambasted Garrison's point man in the investigation, Command Sgt. Major William Rambo, who was charged with pursuing Resister links inside the Special Warfare Center. (While in the Army, Barry had served under Rambo and once boasted to him that he would one day lead a successful revolutionary army.) Pate's article went on to mock the Army's supposed inability to identify those linked to the SFU.
The article had its intended effect. It was widely considered an embarrassment to the Special Forces and helped to stall Garrison's investigation.
"They have surprised even the supporters who thought they could not survive to publish this long," Pate wrote of The Resister group. "And the [Resister] staff ... have done so using the same tradecraft and counterinsurgency skills to avoid detection that they were taught as covert operators by the Army and the Central Intelligence Agency."
The truth was somewhat less impressive.
The Reprimand: 'Reprehensible' Conduct
In mid-December 1995, a soldier told officials that Barry had given him a copy of The Resister in a parking lot at Ft. Bragg, N.C., where he was based.
By the time Pate's congratulatory piece appeared, Barry was being sweated by Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) interrogators about his role in The Resister. According to a CID report, Barry claimed that he was a mere subscriber, not the editor of the publication.
Admitted editor or not, the result was a career-wrecking reprimand for Barry issued on March 6, 1996. Col. Mark Boyatt, Barry's commanding officer at 3rd Special Forces Group, excoriated Barry for his role in distributing a publication that consistently printed information deemed "operationally sensitive" and "of a confidential nature."
"Your apparent disregard for the protection of sensitive information which could be used to cause the injury or death of your fellow soldiers is reprehensible," Boyatt wrote. "[Y]our distribution of [The Resister] ... causes me to question your loyalty and future value to the United States Army."
Barry's security clearance was suspended, and he was reassigned to a dead-end job at the Group's language laboratory.
Barry would boast later that the Army had merely sidelined him to a job that took just an hour a day to complete, leaving the rest of his time free to expand The Resister from a stapled pamphlet to an 80-page journal. But more trouble was brewing.
In the wake of the December 1995 murder of a black couple outside Ft. Bragg by three active-duty white supremacist paratroopers, the House National Security Committee decided to hold a hearing into extremist activity in the military.
That decision followed the embarrassing disclosure that Army officials had known for at least 10 months that one of the murderers was an active white supremacist who'd been caught wearing Nazi symbols and fighting with a black soldier. It also came after then-Army Secretary Togo West ordered an investigation into white supremacist activities at all Army bases.
The hearing, which would convene in June 1996 with testimony from all the armed forces' service secretaries, was requested by the committee's ranking Democrat, Ronald Dellums of California.
In advance of the hearing, an internal memo prepared by senior committee staffer George Withers was circulated to Democratic members.
It told a troubling tale.
The Haiti Fiasco
In December 1995, Withers wrote, he and other committee staffers had traveled to Ft. Bragg to meet with Army officials for a briefing. The trip came just two weeks after a disturbing Washington Post article on the role of the Special Forces in a U.S./United Nations effort to restore democracy in Haiti.
The soldiers were there as part of a project to reinstall the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been deposed in a military coup after his 1990 election. According to the Post, Aristide officials claimed that Special Forces troops had helped certain anti-Aristide Haitian military and paramilitary forces to hide their guns, directly defying official U.S./UN efforts to disarm them.
Withers asked to meet with the Special Operations Command's most senior officer, but was met instead by a command legal officer. Withers inquired about both The Resister and the Post report. The officer was "less than responsive" about The Resister, Withers wrote.
As to the Post story about alleged Special Forces subversion in Haiti, Withers reported that the officer told him, "We looked into that, and found it be untrue."
Withers asked for details of the investigation that backed the officer's assertions. But for six months, Withers wrote, the Army dragged its feet. Finally, after several requests, the Army sent the committee's staff a letter reiterating that the Haiti report was "unfounded," but offering no further details.
"When pressed," Withers wrote, "... [Army officials] said that they had asked the soldiers themselves if they were involved in such activities and the soldiers had said no, so they decided they did not need to investigate further."
The officials also said The Resister was unconnected to the Special Forces although one soldier had been reprimanded for distributing it. Barry's name was not mentioned.
But even as both the Army and Special Forces were officially denying the allegations of the Aristide government, The Resister was saying otherwise.
In January, four months before the Army's memo to Withers, Barry boasted in print about the SFU's anti-Aristide activities in Haiti, where he had been briefly assigned in support of Operation Restore Democracy.
More recently, in a 1999 issue of The Resister, he wrote of his own role in subverting the U.S. mission: "Instead of posturing and blustering and whining about [the gun confiscation program], I kept my mouth shut and acted. So, despite the best efforts of our Communist administration, there are still hundreds of anti-Communist Haitians who still possess militarily useful arms."